On August 5, the Minnesota State Court of Appeals unanimously rejected a challenge from environmental groups against the state’s nonferrous mining rules, which directly affects the development of PolyMet’s NorthMet project. The suit was filed after the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued a permit to mine for PolyMet’s copper, nickel and precious metals project in the Mesabi Iron Range, the first of its kind in Minnesota.
The environmental groups, including Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, filed the suit in 2018 and contested that the mining rules were “vague” and “outdated” and would not protect residents from water pollution.
The three-judge panel agreed with the DNR that “flexible reclamation rules are necessary to accommodate the variety of conditions at proposed mine sites” and endorsed the DNR’s authority to establish reclamation standards and deny a permit if necessary, according to PolyMet.
“We are pleased that the court of appeals ruled in our favor,” said Jon Cherry, president and CEO. “Minnesota’s standards for nonferrous mining are among the strictest anywhere in the world, and we demonstrated through the extensive environmental review and permitting process that we can meet or exceed these standards.”
PolyMet has received 18 state and federal permits and approvals. The last being the record of decision and wetlands permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.